engine (SE) has become a vital part of information sharing & commerce
on the web, and today, SE advertising has become a very big business.
Just as SEs become more sophisticated in their relevance to search queries,
so too are web surfers becoming more savvy in using them as tools on
In a nutshell, a search engine is a network of thousands of computers
that searches and indexes the entire internet. Users input a keyword
or phrase into a field on the SEs site to locate relevant websites.
The biggest SE is:
as every day it becomes more important for firms to have their sites
properly indexed for SEs, also every day it becomes more competitive.
More than three billion pages are now indexed.
interesting stats from OneStat.com (late 2003). These figures will change
quickly. Microsoft has announced a new SE to come online maybe in 2005.
It will be a powerful one. The 7 largest search engines on the web are
2. Yahoo 21.5%
3. MSN Search 9.4%
4. AOL Search 3.7%
5. Terra Lycos 2.3%
6. Altavista 1.9%
7. Ask Jeeves 1.6%
that Yahoo is powered by google, clearly you have to be in google to
be a player in the game. If youre in google, youre covered
for 75% of SE searches worldwide. This article is just an introduction.
It may sound funny, but you can search for search engines in search
engines! Lots of info out there. SE sites also contain excellent and
wide ranging information.
launched a new site?
worry if your brand new site doesn't appear in search engines after
launch. Eventually it will, SEs trawl the net periodically, typically
about once a month. That's why there are paid services to express submit
your site to search engine indexes. (Its even possible that some
might delay listing new sites to increase sales of this service!)
site should be indexed eventually. Especially if linked to by an indexed
site. Click as a Flash submits client sites to Google. You can visit
other SEs and find a link to submit your site. Some are free, some require
a fee. Free listing can be very slow, paid listing is very fast.
note: well use our example site Rays Roof Repairs as the
model for this article.
are two steps involved in listing your site to improve your ranking
what keywords and phrases potential clients will use to look for you.
2. Optimize your site and make it relevant based on those keywords and
1. Identify what
keywords and phrases are relevant
thing about search engines is you have to figure out what clients search
for. Not what youd like them to search for, but what they actually
do search for!
Imagine you are a customer looking for your own site. Ask friends or
colleagues what they would throw into a search engine to locate a firm
selling products or services like yours.
critical reason to know what your prime search query word(s) are is
that you can only hope to "own" one phrase, not many. So your
aim is to try to own your best single phrase. You might
succeed in being in the top 10 of people who like a phrase like "Los
Angeles roof repairs" by emphasizing that phrase on your site,
but you have to let go of your third, fourth, fifth and so on choices.
(You can only have one heading on a page etc, which constrains your
optimizing efforts.) So if someone inputs Fix roof in LA
you might miss out on some business. But that doesnt matter if
more people input LA roof repairs.
out your best keywords is vital as you might score well with a phrase
like "Los Angeles roof repairs" and optimize your site for
that phrase, but that's not valuable if even more customers are searching
for "Fix roof in LA". Meet your market.
of determining your best key phrases is to run a paid ad campaign with
google - this costs money but the data received (on how many clicks
each phrase you submit receives) is very, very useful.
Info on how we can run a google advertising campaign for you follows.
your site for SEs
step is to optimize your site for search engines to maximize your ranking
and click-thru success.
are companies on the web which offer this as a paid service. Be wary
of their claims. They can honestly claim to be able to get a name like
Rays Roof Repairs to a google top ten result. And
so they can (its not difficult) as thats a unique phrase,
unlike professional roof repairs. Click as a Flash
is number two in google, but that doesnt help our business, as
no-one searches for the firm by name! It is of limited use in a business
sense because people are looking for a roofing site (not a firm which
they havent yet heard of) so they arent going to input your
name. Rather, they will throw keywords and key phrases into the SE.
challenge is to figure out what keywords and phrases your potential
clients will use to look for you. So if you can identify phrases your
potential customer will most likely use (like "Los Angeles roof
repairs") it is possible to adjust your site (sometimes called
optimizing for search engines) so that your ranking on searches improves.
In summary, you use various strategies like repeating that phrase on
several pages etc.
"own" a phrase like "Los Angeles roof repairs" you
need to use that phrase throughout your site, in your headings, your
text, even hidden picture labels etc. That helps you to rank above your
competitors, even if it upsets the literary quality of your text a little.
For good English you vary word use. For SEs, you repeat words.
So the text of Rays Roof Repairs should have a number of sentences
The number one firm for Los Angeles roof repairs. or, Call
1234 5678 for the best roof repairs in Los Angeles. Note these
two uses of the four words Los, Angeles, roof
note: Page headings are important. So for their Contact page, Rays
Roof Repairs should call that page Contact for Roof Repairs in
Los Angeles rather than just Contact.
summarize, by repeating your preferred phrase, you can rank more highly,
but lose a little literary style.
keyword and description META tags are a part of the optimization
process, but carry little "weight" with search engines these
days because so many people know how to stack them. Click as a Flash
incorporates META tags for all our clients.
are very, very important for ranking. So if Rays belonged to some LA
Roofing Association or whatever and they linked to their site, their
ranking score rises. Your links are even searched and assessed for their
relevancy, so if your friend Joe from Joe's Diner.com links to your
site, that's not too helpful. Google regards a link to your site as
a kind of relevant vote for your site, and rewards you for
exchanges arent valuable if a site has 1,000 links and
one of them is to you, google isnt impressed. But if the site
only has 10 links and one is to you, then google is impressed. Google
assumes your site is important if another site grants you one of its
only 10 links.
engines are now very clever. They now look at all your text and even
your domain name as they try to rank sites for their results lists.
So if you want to "own" a keyword like "Los Angeles Roof
Repairs" you have it in your headlines, frequently in your text,
maybe even make losangelesroofrepairs.com your domain name!
special note: Its possible that you can lose ranking points for
doing bad things, such as trying to trick the search engines
by repeating your keywords hundreds of times and so on. So dont
that SEs may only crawl the net once a month or so, improving ranking
in search engines is a slow process but obviously important in the long
are your clients looking for?
are listed our example sites keywords and description tags which
partially help search engines determine Ray's relevance to a search
query. (Remember there are many other factors SEs use to assess relevancy.)
(A special note: Meta tags are hidden tags inserted into
website code partly for visitors browsers to be able to interpret
the site, and partly to give info to search engines.)
NAME="keywords" CONTENT="roof, repairs, roofing, storm,
emergency, damage, tiles, corrugated iron, Los Angeles, LA, California"
META NAME="description" CONTENT="Rays Roof Repairs,
professional Los Angeles roof repairs"
if someone threw "Los Angeles roof repairs" into a search
engine, the site has a chance of a decent ranking, as the phrase occurs
in the hidden META tag and also in the text. However, META tags dont
carry much weight with SEs these days.
top secret google algorithm
outside google knows the formula of their algorithm by which they weigh
relevance of the data within websites. It's much more than just the
description words that are hidden in a site's hidden meta
tags. Google gives weight to many things, such as the number of times
the word is repeated on your site, extra weight if it is in headings
even if your keywords appear in your domain name. Weight is even
given to the number of links to your site, and even to the relevance
and quality of those links! In other words, google goes to great lengths
to weigh the relevance of your site to the input keywords in what must
be a very complex formula.
Click as a Flashs
theoretical guess at the google algorithm theoretical point scale
(losangelesroofrepairs.com would edge ahead of raysroofrepairs.com in
a search for the keywords los angeles roof repairs)
Description and Meta Tags: 10
(some or all key words should be in your company description to score
on those words.)
Keyword usage and repetition in text: 40
(how many times is Los Angeles or "roof repairs"
repeated to score well?)
Usage in paragraph headings: 10
Usage in bold text: 5
Usage in page headings: 15
Usage in picture captions: 5
Links from other sites (PageRank): 40
(if other roof related organizations link to your site, Google thinks
you are more important.)
Google calls this "PageRank". Here's what google says
on its website:
"Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page
A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes,
or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote."
Number of pages: 5
(a 20 page relevant site trumps a 5 page site)
Dynamics, like frequency of info updates: 5
(Google might give higher marks if your site updates frequently, not
sit there with "updated July 4, 1999")
Site listing on www.dmoz.org 15
(a human assessed database of sites, you can subit your site to dmoz.)
Unknown factor 1: 10
(the google algorithm is a closely guarded secret like the Coca Cola
Unknown factor 2: 10
Unknown factor 3: 10
(There must be other factors we havent yet discovered!)
Attempting to trick search engines: -40
(There are various tricks that have been used to trick SEs, such as
using invisible text - white text on a white background. SEs can identify
these tricks. Likewise, they can determine if you repeat your keywords
10 times in a row.)
You have a cousin who is a google engineer: 10
it is, this could be the google algorithm, worth million$.
your site to search engines
the web has over 3 billion pages, it can take months for SEs to find
your site via trawling on the web. So for some site owners it makes
sense to pay for priority inclusion into the big search engines.
be emphasized that many SEs allow you to submit sites for inclusion
for free - you can often find a link on their sites. We can do an express
inclusion for clients for a small fee, or you might like to try it yourself
is the submission company we have used for Click as a Flash.
for inclusion into Inktomi (which feeds MSN and Hotbot) start at $25,
Ask Jeeves and Teoma $18, Altavista $19, What u Seek $19. These fees
are for 6 months or a year, but its not clear as to why you would
need to renew, because the search engines aren't likely to delete your
as a Flash was express submitted via ineedhits.com to "Ask Jeeves"
and it appeared in about four days or so. Be wary of assurances by paid
submission companies that they can get some unusual name to the top
of a listing - that is easy. Its easy to optimize a site so that
a search for Rays Roof Repairs brings up the Rays
Roof Repairs site. The difficult thing is to get a general phrase like
"roof repairs" to bring up your site.
as a Flash" comes up as around number two in a google search, but
is of little use as that's not what new clients search for!
keywords by advertising on google
is a way of using google advertising to research your keywords. Google
advertising is effective because you only pay for CLICK-THRUS, not for
VIEWS ONLY! Click as a Flash offers this service for $200. A $100 fee
for us, and $100 goes to google for the actual campaign. What you do
is use say twenty phrases for a period of time. Then, after say a month,
the data from this advertising reveals how many people clicked on which
keywords, and even how many clicked through on those keywords. This
truly helps identify what keywords your customers are using.
might discover that 56 people searched for "LA emergency roof repairs"
for that month, and 4 clicked through to Rays (because your paid
ad appeared 56 times). So even if your ad spend doesn't bring in business,
you get valuable info. But then you have to figure out if your targetted
high up excutive with a budget clicked thru to your site, or just some
curious passer by!
very valuable strategic information from this exercise. Whats
the use of optimizing your site for L A roofing repairs
if your clients are looking for LA roof repairs?
try 20 or more words or phrases. You set a daily budget eg $10 a day,
and a price per click thru on your ad, eg 50 cents. (In that case, if
20 people click thru to Rays, you pay $10 for that day. Then,
your ads stop until tomorrow. Very clever, very interesting business.)
A time and money limit is set, eg $10 per day ad spend for 10 days.
If your click-thru fee is 50 cents, you will have 200 click-thrus to
analyse prior to your next campaign.
write a couple of short ads which only appear if someone inputs your
relevant phrases. An example of a google ad is:
Rays Roof Repairs, the best roof repairs company in Los Angeles.
If you registered the phrase "Los Angeles roof repairs" and
50 people input that query one day, and 10 of those people clicked on
the Rays ad, then it would cost $5.
of this is you can register unusual phrases and find out what people
are inputting! Just repeating, its vitally important to find out
what your customers want!
register particular keywords which, if they appear in any combination
in a search engine query, cause one of your ads to appear. So you can
register a series of keyword groups like: "roof, emergency, repairs"
and specify that all three must appear in the search string.
immediate data from Google eg: 42 people searched for "Los Angeles
roof repairs" and 7 clicked on the Rays ad on November 12.
You get full details on how many people searched for which query. So
you gradually can figure out your most precious phrases or keywords
provided you try every possible word you can think of in the first place.
likely is you will be surprised at what people use in search engines
to find a firm like yours - well thats what happened to Click
as a Flash!
you can learn a lot by looking at the source code of other websites.
The procedure is to throw your preferred keywords into a search engine,
then visit the top sites that appeal. Look at their source code, then
all their pages. To examine the source code of a site from the browser,
you click on the View button at the top, then Source.
Then, you can usually see that site's meta tags and other information.Watch
out for instances of the keywords in the text and headlines. You start
to theorize about why the site ranked so highly. (And half the time
you can't figure it, some irrelevant site ranks above yours!)
people have made it their hobby, their lifes work, to fine tune
their sites to improve their SE ranking. They wait patiently for google
to re-index their site, then check that their rank has gone up! Your
ranking often fluctuates from month to month, a phenomenon thats
been called the Florida Dance.
this link to read an in-depth article about the Google
PageRank system by David Callan.
© Click as a Flash 2004-12 (no part may be reproduced without